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Research Coins: Feature Auction

CNG 111, Lot: 781. Estimate $5000.
Sold for $6500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Gordian III. AD 238-244. AV Aureus (20mm, 4.80 g, 6h). Rome mint, 4th officina. 8th-11th emissions, AD 240-early 243. IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right / VIRTVTI AVGVSTI, Hercules, naked, standing right, resting right hand on hip, holding lion skin and club set on rock in left hand. RIC IV 108; Calicó 3242; Biaggi 1373–4; Hunterian 69; Jameson –; Mazzini 401. Choice EF, lustrous.

The model for this reverse type is the famed marble Farnese Hercules statue that was discovered in the excavations of the Baths of Caracalla in 1546. It stood for over 200 years in the Palazzo Farnese in Rome, from whence it gained its name, and was moved to Naples in 1787, where it is now displayed in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale. The statue is thought to be an enlarged copy sculpted in the early 3rd century AD by Glycon based on an original by Lysippus dating to the 4th century BC. The statue depicts Hercules at rest after completing his Labors: he is shown standing with his club, draped in the skin of the Nemean Lion, set upright on a rock, propped under his left arm supporting the weight of his muscular frame, his head slightly nodding forward in a weary attitude, and he holds the apples of the Hesperides behind his back in his right hand. The sculpture was apparently well-liked by the Romans, and copies have been found in Roman palaces and gymnasiums.